Pontoon Boat Safety Checklist

Whether you're an experienced or a newcomer pontoon boat owner ready to explore all the joys of the Australian body of waters, safety should remain your top priority. It's easy to overlook important details when you're excited to hit the water or enjoying the sun and wind when cruising the waves.

Here’s a helpful boat safety checklist:


First Things First

  • Take a Certified Boating Safety Course: Whether in-person or online, these free courses will educate you on essential aspects to keep yourself and your crew safe on the water. This includes an understanding of the "rules of the road" when encountering other boaters and recognizing navigational and warning markers.
  • Register Your Vessel: Ensure your boat is registered with the appropriate state authorities, with clearly affixed registration numbers.


Gather The Necessary Gear        

  • Life Jackets: Have one properly-fitted life jacket for each passenger on board. In most cases, children under 12 must wear their life jackets at all times. Passengers should also wear them or, at the very least, know how to access them quickly.
  • Throwable Personal Floatation Device: Keep one on board in case of emergency
  • Signaling Devices: These include three combination day/night use pyrotechnics (flares) and one orange distress flag. You should also have a sound-producing device. As a backup to your onboard horn, carry a whistle in case of battery failure.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Make sure it's not past its due date.
  • Docklines & an anchor


Before You Leave The Dock

  • Boat Walkthrough: When taking possession of your new pontoon boat, get a comprehensive walkthrough from the dealership. This should cover how to operate it, and use of all controls, including safety equipment on board.
  • Backup Captain: Designate someone who knows how to operate the boat and can return safely in case of an emergency.
  • Float Plan: Let someone know who's on board, your planned route, and your expected return time.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol contributes to a significant number of boating accidents. As the captain, never operate the boat under the influence.
  • Check the Weather Forecast
  • Double check your equipment: Ensure the navigation lights, horn, and engine cutoff switch (ECOS) are operational.
  • Fuel Check: Make sure you have enough fuel for your day's plans, and top off if necessary.


While Riding

  • Engine Cutoff Switch (ECOS): Always wear it as the captain.
  • Safe Speed: Operate at speeds appropriate for the conditions and passenger load/experience.
  • Follow Navigation Rules: Familiarize yourself with the nautical rules of the water, covering right-of-way situations.
  • Avoid Erratic Maneuvers: Don't make sudden moves that might catch other boaters off guard or endanger passengers.
  • Passenger Safety: Ensure all passengers are seated while the boat is in motion.
  • Engine Precautions: Turn off the engine and disconnect the engine cutoff safety switch before passengers jump in the water, get ready for water sports, or gather on the swimming platform. Always check for people near the propeller(s) before starting the engine.


Additional Boating Gear

  • First Aid Kit
  • Paddle
  • VHF Radio with Weather Alerts
  • Waterproof Flashlight
  • Skier-Down Flag
  • Smartphone with Charger
  • Basic Tools


For additional pontoon boat safety tips and links to approved boating safety courses.


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